My Mom’s Moving Tip That Saved Me Money (and Broken Dishes!)

published Feb 28, 2023
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Every spring, as the clock ticks slowly toward Memorial Day weekend barbecues and June’s summer sun is just in sight, you witness the scramble on social media. Desperate pleas for moving boxes, packing supplies, and generous friends willing to lend a hand suddenly pop up on all outlets. 

When leases are ending and renters start moving out en masse, it can be hard to find boxes and wrapping without spending tons of money at hardware stores. Moving is already expensive enough! Thankfully, my mom taught me a “kill two birds with one stone” approach for packing that saves time, money, and breakables: use clothes as cushion wrapping.

If you’re not already doing this, I cordially invite you to get on Cathy Magnuson’s level. I’ll walk you through the general procedure. First, when you’re collecting boxes and someone offers you a wardrobe box, say, “No thanks, pal! I got this!” (But also take it just in case, because those boxes have lots of packing real estate. Perhaps for pillows!?) 

As you prep to move, plan on packing up all the items that you’ll be able to do without for a few days. These can include seasonal decorations, knick knacks, books, and other non-essentials. Next, take a spin through your closet and drawers and, selecting similar seasonal pieces you won’t be wearing for a week or two, make a pile of clothes wherever you’re packing. Once you’ve assembled your boxes, take clothes from the pile and carefully wrap your dishes, votives, collection of Precious Moments figurines… anything! 

I try to pad the bottom and sides of all my fragile boxes with larger, sturdier pieces of clothing and other fabrics like winter coats, beach towels, and thick sweaters. This way, there’s additional backup cushioning for the inevitable jostling of my extensive Fabergé egg collection. 

As with all moves, I start out strong, pairing like items with like items. For instance, seven days before a move, I’ll have wrapped my snow globes in my rarely-worn dresses and formal wear. But of course, cut to the night before the big move, I’m tucking an old salt shaker I forgot I owned into a bikini bottom and padding my boxes with dirty laundry I didn’t have time to wash. It’s about hoping for the best. 

When the move is over and I’m stuck in the middle of a labyrinthian box fortress, I initiate Part II of the operation. I grab the nearest box, delicately unwrap my little breakable treasures, and place said treasures wherever they are supposed to go (or stay in a sad pile for a month while I slowly make sense of my new surroundings). 

But hold up! Don’t go folding up that box just yet! Use it as a makeshift hamper, collecting your clothing and towels, which have done a brilliant job. Heck, add in a little Marie Kondo-esque blessing for them. “Dear sweatpants I stole from an ex-boyfriend a decade ago, thank you for protecting my water bong that I only use in my state in which marijuana consumption is legal.” (Not to put Cath on blast, but I definitely found one of her little pre-legal breakables when we were moving out of our first house in 2001…) Take my Cool Mom’s advice and save some bubble wrap money on your move! 

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: The Moving Tip from My Mom That Saved Me Money (and Broken Dishes!)